Farmers in Ebonyi State on Wednesday received 150 bags of improved variety of rice seedling and other inputs from the Federal Government.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, the decision was part of efforts to boost wet season rice farming in the state.
Nanono said the programme is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Minister, represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mrs Khalima Babangida, said the items were freely distributed to farmers to boost rice production.
Nanono applauded the Ebonyi Government for providing safe environment for farmers and urged the beneficiaries to utilise the items to enhance rice production.
He also warned them against selling or misusing the inputs received.
He said: “The 50-kilogramme bags of rice seedling is a high-yield improved variety (Faro 44) and it is expected that each beneficiary will receive one bag that will cover one hecter of farm land.
“It is also our expectation that beneficiaries will have bumper harvest and luckily, Ebonyi is the only state in the South-East that is benefitting from the programme.
“The inputs are not for sale and this is the first time any government is doing something like this to farmers freely. It has not happened before.
“Federal government is going to monitor how the inputs are utilised to ensure that they are not diverted or sold.Much has been given to you and much is expected from you,” Nanono said.
He assured the farmers of federal government’s continued assistance to ensure food sufficiency in Ebonyi State and the country at large.
Earlier, the state Coordinator of FMARD, Mr William Obazi, thanked the federal government for its intervention and urged beneficiaries to use the items to boost rice production and make the commodity affordable.
Reports say the inputs included 600 bags of fertilizer (NPK 20-10-10 and 300 Urea brands), herbicides, pesticides and soil mender.